Bonobos use specific sounds (like barks and grunts) to describe food, say researchers
"It's an interesting possibility, which seems to be true for apes and humans," co-author Klaus Zuberbuhler told Discovery News, explaining that both groups can "modify the acoustic structure of their calls, and so reflect the quality of the food they've encountered."
Figs got a perfect score, with raisins a close second. In order from most to least favored, the rest of the list read: grapes, bananas, popcorn, apples, oranges, biscuits, celery, melon, lettuce, yams and peppers.
The scientists determined five unique vocal sounds used by the bonobos in response to the foods: barks, peeps, peep-yelps, yelps and grunts. (Discovery's Born Animal blog offers audio samples of each.)
Barks were typically reserved for the bonobos' favorite foods (think figs and raisins). Their least favorites (like peppers) usually got a grunt.
This new information is significant because many scientists are reluctant to admit that non-human primates can convey specific information through vocalizations. "The resistance to this in the scientific community is enormous," William Fields of the Great Ape Trust told Discovery News.
Photo: Anjan Sundaram / Associated Press